As discussed previously, this is my weekly Twitter roundup. Note that tweets of articles generally include header images from the articles, which I don’t include here unless their creators happen to have released them for use under a free license. Most have not. But I now add most of my commentary here, where I don’t feel restricted by the message length.

diagrams showing the division of the day and of the week

I also don’t generally attach pictures to posts with quotations.

9:01 – Mon 25 April 2022

Suspicious algorithms: time to tame crime-predicting police technology from openDemocracy

…an application pre-emptively identifies groups of people living in particular areas as being at risk of becoming criminals, leading the police to closely monitor their lives, with such monitoring generating data in turn that justifies further investigation.

I think that I’ve talked about how algorithms and machine learning just replicate existing biases, but “math-wash” them to make the system appear unbiased. I’m glad to see more people pointing that out.

12:02 – Mon 25 April 2022

He who does not think too much of himself is much more esteemed than he imagines.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

15:50 – Mon 25 April 2022

I couldn’t resist some quick propaganda to provoke people to try new networks…

Given “The News”(TM), if anyone wants pointers on networks like Mastodon, Diaspora, or Secure Scuttlebutt, feel free to check in.

You lose network effects (no huge audience, no way to yell at politicians, and few brands), but also far fewer billionaires…

9:03 – Tue 26 April 2022

Baby scans show how poverty and crime affect brains from Futurity

MRI scans of full-term newborns born to mothers living in poverty revealed smaller volumes across the entire brain than found in the brains of babies whose mothers had higher household incomes.

See also: Paid family leave is good for moms and baby brains, also from Futurity.

This story also keeps coming around with more emphasis: Inequality, poverty in particular, makes us less healthy, and if you want to go full-on neoliberal about things, costs the economy enormous piles of money.

12:01 – Tue 26 April 2022

Two persons die remorseful: he who possessed and enjoyed not, and he who knew but did not practice.

Saadi Shīrāzī

9:05 – Wed 27 April 2022

Scraping Public Websites (Still) Isn’t a Crime, Court of Appeals Declares from the Electronic Frontier Foundation

…no authorization is required to access a public website, so scraping that website likely cannot be access without authorization, no matter what the website owner thinks about it.

This won’t stop major web services from harassing people who scrape their sites, nor will it stop them from constantly fussing with their layout to stymie those people. However, I always welcome courts ruling that a thing that we can all do manually—copying data from a website—remains legal when you ask a computer to do it.

12:04 – Wed 27 April 2022

Such deeds as thou with fear and grief wouldst, on a sick-bed laid, recall, in youth and health eschew them all, remembering life is frail and brief.

The Mahābhārata

9:02 – Thu 28 April 2022

Democracy Needs You — Not Just at the Polls, But at Work Too from OtherWords

For example, domestic workers are excluded from the protections of the National Labor Relations Act. Yet workers operating on the gig platform Handy successfully negotiated a legal agreement with the company…

I dislike the framing of this article—in that it almost seems to want to say that a decline into fascism would turn out fine, if only we unionized gig workers first—but I appreciate the actual message that we need to embrace democracy at all levels, from the government down into our daily lives. After all, what are corporations, if they’re not authoritarian fiefdoms, controlled by a strong-man leader (the president or CEO) backed by oligarchs (investors)?

12:05 – Thu 28 April 2022

The man with hoary head is not revered as aged by the gods, but only he who has true knowledge; he, though young, is old.

The Manusmriti

9:04 – Fri 29 April 2022

Clarence Thomas and his wife’s text messages highlight missing ethics rules at the Supreme Court from The Conversation

Congress sought to bring attention to this gap. In 2015, bills were introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate that would have mandated the Supreme Court to establish a code of ethics.

Look, it seems unfair to single out Thomas, when at least four Supreme Court Justices should (but won’t) step down to protect the legitimacy of the court—Thomas for interfering with a case that could affect his wife, Gorsuch and Barrett for accepting positions rammed through to block bipartisan cooperation, and Kavanaugh for having an unending list of unanswered questions about his past and a poor temper, plus maybe Roberts for his inability to keep these people under control in “his” court—but if it draws enough attention to the lack of regulation around the Court to spur change, I’m all for hanging the guy out to dry.

And yes, prior drafts of that paragraph did experiment with nouns other than “people” and “guy.”

12:03 – Fri 29 April 2022

The man who has not anything to boast of but his illustrious ancestors is like a potato—the only good belonging to him is underground.

Thomas Overbury


Because it accidentally became a tradition early on in the life of the blog, I drop any additional articles that didn’t fit into the one-article-per-day week, but too weird or important to not mention, here.

Big brains and bodies let crows and ravens take over the planet from Futurity

Using specimens housed in museums across Europe and the US, the scientists found that they have longer wing lengths, bigger body sizes, and bigger relative brain sizes compared with other Corvids.

As I write the early draft of this post, a blue jay genuinely sits on my fence, staring at me. I take that to mean that it objects to the researchers’ methodology.

Just in time for Earth Day, Trinidad & Tobago gets a new bat from Global Voices

Testing will also compare the team’s morphological measurements to a holotype specimen housed in a U.S. museum.

While unfortunate that the critters have a tendency to carry rabies, I have always had a soft spot for bats. We can argue about whether it comes from exposure to Batman or came independent of that exposure—I don’t believe that I saw any outside a zoo for my childhood—but I can’t ignore a story like this…

Biology with Tibetan Buddhist monks: What I’m taking back to my college classroom from teaching at a monastery from The Conversation

Through an activity in which students place something in “living/nonliving/once-living” categories, students can explore questions at the edges. For instance, is a virus a living thing? How about artificial intelligence? How would we decide when we discovered extraterrestrial life? These philosophical discussions about life spark interesting discussions across both cultures.

I feel torn on this article. On the one hand, the Western obsession with the non-materialistic approach to thinking about life among Buddhists serves to further exoticize Asian cultures. On the other, the contrast does force us to think through related questions more deeply.

Credits: Header image is Circular diagrams showing the division of the day and of the week from a manuscript drafted during the Carolingian Dynasty.